Windows 8 Compatibility Check – Issues we have discovered

Recently, we’ve had a couple of users ask us to upgrade their laptops to Windows 8. During the process, a couple of compatibility issues have appeared and seem to be common issues. I am listing the most common, what they mean and what you can do.

DVD Player Applications

Windows 8 is not compatible with certain versions of DVD player software. These include WinDVD, CyberDVD and other programs usually bundled with your laptop. If you don’t need a fancy DVD player or have used VLC Media player, this is the solution for you.

Secure Boot isn’t compatible with your PC

Let me explain what Secure Boot is and why this is only available on newer system. Secure boot attempts to protect the PC against boot loader attacks, which can compromise a system before the OS even loads. Secure boot is actually a feature of Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a new type of boot environment that has gradually been replacing the standard BIOS process. Windows 8 taps into UEFI’s secure boot to ensure that the pre-OS environment is safe and secure.

Secure Boot should not be used if you plan on having a dual-boot environment, i.e. selecting Windows or Linux when you start your computer. You are also limited to using certified drivers for your hardware. If you get a message saying your driver is not signed by Microsoft, as some 3rd party and beta drivers are, you cannot use Secure Boot.

Screen Resolution is not compatible with Snap

If your screen does not support a 1366 x 768 resolution, you cannot use Snap. This resolution is typical of a wide-screen monitor and some laptops do not have support for this size. Snap is the ability to pin your applications to the left side of the screen to quickly switch and access them, a great feature given the tablet nature of Windows 8. If you have used an iPhone or iPad, you know switching from one app to another requires returning to the home screen to load the other app. While you can easily see running apps by pressing the home button twice, you still have to leave the app to see running apps. For example switching between email and your browser, for example, requires you to return to the home screen to launch apps each time you want to switch between them. With Snap, you swipe the left side of your screen (with mouse or finger) to see and switch to any running app.

Bluetooth Software is not compatible

Most installed software is not compatible and has to be upgraded or removed until an update is made available.

Symantec Endpoint Protection is not compatible

While Norton single user/home product has released a compatible version for Windows 8, corporate users and enterprise users will have to wait for Symantec’s version of its popular Endpoint Protection.

If you use Endpoint Protection, and you are willing to purchase a home use product (or are allowed to by corporate policy), go ahead and remove Endpoint Protection and install Windows 8. Otherwise, you will have to wait until they release a compatible version.

So that’s it! These are the most common issues we have seen so far.

How to prepare your PC for Windows 8

If you’re planning to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest OS, now might be a good time to begin preparing your PC.

Windows 8 has been released to consumers on October 26. Priced at just $39.99, the upgrade is surprisingly affordable. If you’re thinking about upgrading to Microsoft’s latest operating system, now might be a great time to start your preparations. Having an upgrade plan can help mitigate many of the risks involved with a major OS upgrade. Here are some suggestions to help your upgrade go as smoothly as possible: Check your system for compatibility

The first thing you’ll want to do is to check your PC to see if it can run Windows 8 properly. The Windows 8 system requirements are:

  • Processor: 1GHz CPU or faster
  • RAM: 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit)
  • Disk space: 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics: DirectX 9-capable video card with WDDM driver

To use the new Windows Store, you’ll need a screen resolution of at least 1024×768 pixels. Also, to snap apps, a resolution of at least 1,366×768 pixels is required. Be sure to run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant as well, to check your system for Windows 8 readiness. You can also check the Windows 8 Compatibility Center to manually look up your software and hardware. (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/upgrade-to-windows-8)

Gather your hardware drivers

Windows 8 may not have proper drivers for your PC’s hardware, especially if the components are really old. If the Windows Upgrade Assistant flagged items, check your system manufacturer’s Web site for the latest drivers on things like, printers, touch pads, graphics cards, and audio cards. If you can find at least Vista drivers, they have a good chance of working in Windows 8.

Freshen up your PC

Giving your system a once-over will help the upgrade go faster and allow your new Windows 8 system to run smoothly from the get-go. Free up disk space, check Windows system security, and even physically clean your hardware. Check out our Windows PC spring cleaning tips for more maintenance tasks you can perform to freshen up your PC.

Back up your personal files

Don’t risk losing your personal data during the upgrade. Back up all your documents, pictures, music, and videos to an external hard drive and make sure the drive is disconnected during the upgrade. Don’t forget to back up your e-mail too, if you’re using a desktop e-mail client. Though Chrome and Firefox can sync your bookmarks, it wouldn’t hurt to save a local copy of your bookmarks too.

Collect your software and license keys

If you’re upgrading from Windows XP or Vista, you’ll have to reinstall your software programs. Make a list of the programs you want to reinstall and make sure you have the installation files available. Also, gather up the license keys for those programs. If you can’t find your license keys, Belarc Advisor might be able to pull them for you. After you’ve collected all your software, place them all on an external hard drive or USB flash drive for quick and easy installation.

Deauthorize/deactivate programs

Some programs, like iTunes and Adobe full license products, require you to deauthorize your PC or deactivate your license, before you’re allowed to install them again. Make sure to deauthorize your PC and deactivate licenses to make sure you can reinstall those programs, hassle-free.

Make note of your Wi-Fi password

It’s easy to forget your Wi-Fi password if you haven’t needed it in a while or if someone else set it up for you. Make sure you know what it is before you begin upgrading, so you’re not fumbling for an Internet connection afterward. Some routers, like those from AT&T and Netgear, have unique passwords printed on the router itself. You can also try using WirelessKeyView to help you find your Wi-Fi password, or just use an Ethernet cable until you can figure it out.

Clone your system before you upgrade

If for some reason, your upgrade turns into a nightmare, reverting back to your old version of Windows might become your only choice. Clone your system with Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, or Clonezilla, so you can go back to your old version of Windows, just in case.

That’s it. Next up, step by step upgrades process.

iPad Management without iTunes

If you have an iPad, you’ll know that the recommended way to copy files to and from it is via iTunes. Trouble is, while the iPad itself is a wonderful device, iTunes is a bloated, inefficient app that mainly exists in order to try to sell you downloadable content for your device.

If you want to browse and copy the files on your iPad and you don’t want to use iTunes, thankfully help is at hand. There are some useful programs around which allow you to do this, one of which is called DiskAid. Once installed, you can copy files from (and in some cases to) your iPad from your Windows PC. You can also browse the device’s file system and view what’s already on it, including installed apps.

Although the program doesn’t need iTunes, it does need one of the device drivers from within iTunes. You’ll therefore need to download (but not install iTunes), extract a couple of files from the download, and run those on your PC before you can use DiskAid. It only takes a few minutes and is fully explained on the DiskAid site.

You can get DiskAid from http://www.digidna.net/products/diskaid. The Windows download is 4 MB, and is clean according to VirusTotal.

The program is free, but there’s also a registered version available for $25 which has additional features. It’s worth noting that, if you are in education (student or staff) and have an academic email address ending in .edu, .ac.uk and so on, you can get a licence for free. Again, details are on the web site.